Water for Elephants: A Novel

Front Cover
Algonquin Books, 2007 - Fiction - 350 pages
1853 Reviews

Though he may not speak of them, the memories still dwell inside Jacob Jankowski's ninety-something-year-old mind. Memories of himself as a young man, tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. Memories of a world filled with freaks and clowns, with wonder and pain and anger and passion; a world with its own narrow, irrational rules, its own way of life, and its own way of death. The world of the circus: to Jacob it was both salvation and a living hell.

Jacob was there because his luck had run out—orphaned and penniless, he had no direction until he landed on this locomotive "ship of fools." It was the early part of the Great Depression, and everyone in this third-rate circus was lucky to have any job at all. Marlena, the star of the equestrian act, was there because she fell in love with the wrong man, a handsome circus boss with a wide mean streak. And Rosie the elephant was there because she was the great gray hope, the new act that was going to be the salvation of the circus; the only problem was, Rosie didn't have an act—in fact, she couldn't even follow instructions. The bond that grew among this unlikely trio was one of love and trust, and ultimately, it was their only hope for survival.

Surprising, poignant, and funny, Water for Elephants is that rare novel with a story so engrossing, one is reluctant to put it down; with characters so engaging, they continue to live long after the last page has been turned; with a world built of wonder, a world so real, one starts to breathe its air.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
745
4 stars
606
3 stars
292
2 stars
145
1 star
65

I enjoyed the plot and was curious about the ending. - Goodreads
The writing isn't very good. - Goodreads
I love a wonderful heart-breaking love story. - Goodreads
Her prose is clumsy, obvious and sometimes laughable. - Goodreads
Beautiful storytelling! - Goodreads
Enjoyed this book, easy to read and a good story - Goodreads
User Review - Flag as inappropriate

Wow, wonderful!
This is an amazing book!

Review: Water for Elephants

User Review  - Vivian - Goodreads

This book took my breath away. I was so moved by the story and I teared up multiple times while reading it. It was such a beautiful and heartbreaking book. The characters were very realistic and I ... Read full review

All 77 reviews »

Contents

Prologue
1
One
5
Two
15
Copyright

27 other sections not shown

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2007)

Sara Gruen was born in Canada. She became a US citizen and was working as a technical writer here in 1999. Two years later she was laid off and decided to become a full-time writer of fiction. She is married and lives in North Carolina with her husband, three children, dogs, cats, horses and a goat. She is one of a very few number of people who has actually visited the Great Ape Trust in Des Moines, Iowa. There she was researching the bonobos monkeys and began writing her novel, Ape House. Her earlier bestselling novel, Water For Elephants, will soon be made into a movie.

Bibliographic information